GROWING 
 Socio - Economic Benefits 
 
 

Some 200,000 families in Kenya are engaged in the cultivation of Pyrethrum. It therefore supports an estimated 1 Million people who derive their livelihood directly or indirectly from this crop.

A typical grower owns about two to four hectares of land:

One half of the land is used for food crops and live stock to take care of every day's physical needs (subsistence).

The other half of the land is devoted to Pyrethrum as a cash crop. Without this income from Pyrethrum these families will not be able to participate in normal life. The money earned is equivalent to the income of a primary school teacher. It is sufficient for an average family to pay for school fees, higher education, medical services, old age care and daily essential services. Growing Pyrethrum does not require prohibitive investments and directly contributes to the welfare of the rural community.

For the country as a whole Pyrethrum is such an important foreign exchange earner and a significant contributor to the economy. It also serves as a vehicle for the development of social and physical infrastructure.

Ideal growing conditions for Pyrethrum include:    

•  Temperate Weather ("Spring Climate")
•  Moderate but well distributed Rainfall
•  Low Night Temperatures
•  Altitudes of 2,000 metres
•  Rich Volcanic Soils



These climatic conditions are found in four major regions which are climatically completely different and independent of each other, i.e. Lake Victoria region, Northern Rift Valley, Southern Rift Valley and Mount Kenya. If one area experiences poor weather conditions that will result in a possible shortfall in production it can be balanced by another region. The new scheme of diversification of growing regions in tandem with a highly flexible seed programme will ensure availability of flowers at all times.

One hectare accommodates 52,000 plants. Ready flowers are picked at intervals of two weeks. Picking continues for nearly a whole year; from July to April the following year. About 1,000 kg of dried Pyrethrum Flowers are obtained in one year from one hectare. This quantity will yield 25 kg of highly refined Extract. Although Pyrethrum is a perennial crop, a typical plantation will last for three to four years. The farmer will then transfer the plants to another crop.

Harvested flower heads are sun dried and delivered through a network of rural co-operatives to the centrally located factory of the PBK. Farmers are paid according to the weight and content of these immediate harvests. At the end of each year they will receive an additional bonus payment depending on the level of surplus funds generated by the PBK from the world markets.

 
 
 Farm inputs 


Pyrethrum is well adapted to Kenyan conditions and does not require chemical inputs such as fertilizers, herbicides, etc. Pyrethrum is truly a botanical insecticide that is produced under organic conditions.

 
 Planting materials 


For purposes of genetic preservation, the PBK maintains an extensive library of diverse clones and varieties. Plants are selected through research in regards to Pyrethrin content, yearly yield per acre, resistance to disease and other environmental factors. PBK avails the most viable plants to the farmers and also offers extension services to advise on growing and husbandry.